Tag Archives: Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud

Losing business in America

The Washington Post had an interesting article during the weekend. The article (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/supreme-court-case-centers-on-law-enforcement-access-to-data-held-overseas/2018/02/25/756f7ce8-1a2f-11e8-b2d9-08e748f892c0_story.html) gives us ‘Supreme Court to hear Microsoft case: A question of law and borders‘ where the issue debated is: “At issue is whether a U.S. company must comply with a court order to turn over emails, even if they are held abroad — in this case in a Dublin server. The litigation turns on a 1986 law, the Stored Communications Act, passed long before email became a ubiquitous way to communicate and before American firms began storing massive amounts of data outside U.S. borders“, in this case it goes even further then the lawmakers or lawyers have considered. Apart from the fact that the server is physically in Dublin and a case would be required to be made in Strasbourg, there is one additional need (beyond the stringent privacy laws in Europe). Microsoft is phrasing it that in opposition, “an adverse ruling would leave the government “no basis to object” when other countries demand Americans’ emails stored inside the United States, that it would “trammel” other nations’ sovereignty and erode trust in a way that poses “an existential threat” to the $250 billion cloud-computing industry“, this leads us to the Cloud Act, as we get the quote (in this case from WCCFTech) “Congress is currently considering to make it easier for the law enforcement to access international data – one of the major headaches that the prosecutors currently face. Microsoft, Google and other tech companies who have had their fair share of issues with the government have long asked for a revamp of the legislation that demands companies to hand over data stored on a foreign land“, the question is not why it is needed, but on how the changing rule of privacy is impacting those outside of the US, more important, how it could turn against the US in the long term.

The danger is seen, not in Europe, but in Saudi Arabia where banking laws are actually extremely protective of the customers. Let me explain with the following information.

There are certain secular regulations passed by government, which although not dedicated as a whole to data privacy/protection, contain specific provisions governing the right to privacy and data protection in certain contexts. Examples of such regulations include:

  • the Basic Law of Governance (no: A/90 dated 27th Sha’ban 1412 H (corresponding to 1 March 1992)), which provides that telegraphic, postal, telephone and other means of communications shall be safeguarded. They cannot be confiscated, delayed, read or breached.
  • The Anti-Cyber Crime Law (8 Rabi 1, 1428 (corresponding to 26 March 2007)) (as amended), which generally prohibits, amongst other things, the interception of data transmitted through an information network, the invasion of privacy through the misuse of camera-equipped mobile phones and the like, illegally accessing bank or credit data of another, unlawful access to computers for the purpose of deleting, destroying, altering or redistributing private data, or the production, preparation, transmission or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through an information network or computers;
  • The Telecoms Act (approved pursuant to the Royal Decree No. (M/12) dated 12/03/1422H (corresponding to 3 June 2001), which states that the privacy and confidentiality of telephone calls and information transmitted or received through public telecommunications networks shall be maintained, and disclosure, listening or recording the same is generally prohibited

The Regulations for the Protection of Confidential Commercial Information (issued by Minister of Commerce and Industry Decision No. (3218) dated 25/03/1426H (corresponding to 4 May 2005), and as amended), which governs the protection of data considered to be “commercial secrets” under these regulations.
(Source: DLA Piper, at https://www.dlapiperdataprotection.com/index.html?t=law&c=SA)

So if we see Saudi Arabia push for equally protection in regards to digital privacy and digital personal data, there would soon be a jump by many people to get a futuristic @gmail.sa account.

So now we see the US pushing and they could lose out twice, first the fact that others will demand US data in the same trend for their own criminal legislation reasons (which should make the Wall Street boys nice and nervous. the second is that those who they are trying to prosecute will take their business to Saudi Arabia and protective minded nations. With Saudi Arabia looking at billions of investments coming from the Tech sector, giving in to big business like Apple, Google and Microsoft would be a small step to get the infusion of massive cash drops, infrastructure and evolution of their technological infrastructure. That alone could push the ‘Vision 2030’ plan that has been the shiny jewel for Saudi Arabia as envisioned by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud ahead by several years.

Yet when we see the WCCFTech, we also see the dangerous finale. With “Tech companies have continued to hint for a legislative reform that could help them deliver data on criminals when a warrant is served but the data is stored outside of the country. What these companies feel about the Cloud Act, however, remains unclear“, we see the crucible. This test is not set in law, but in interpretation. With ‘deliver data on criminals when a warrant is served‘, you see, a person is innocent until proven guilty, so as such the warrant becomes useless if there is no conviction. Now, I feel certain that the Cloud Act will take such matters into account, but in the clarity of the Act, it is an American Act and as such, even when we get “Thomas Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism and Paddy McGuinness, deputy national security adviser for Britain wrote. “The first one would be with Britain, which already has the authority to enter into such a pact.”” I am personally not convinced of that. The entire mess of the Safe Harbour or Safe Harbour 2.0 and/or the EU-US Privacy Shield, when we see privacy, yet in some places we see “for commercial purposes”, which is causing more confusion than give clarity, the fact that a lot is not done in the open and merely between the US and big business is making plenty of people worried. So when we see “2,400 companies – including Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Alphabet Inc.” whilst we see “Facebook’s default privacy settings and use of personal data are against German consumer law, according to a judgement handed down by a Berlin regional court”, whilst at the same time we see that Facebook list a case in the Belgian courts too. So the entire setting as we are given the view by Reuters “EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova, who presented the first annual report on the agreement, the Shield is “working well”“, whilst at the same time we see that one of the three largest players in the data industry is handed their marching papers all over Europe is a much larger cause for concern and Saudi Arabia is gaining an unique position to cash in on that setting, and they are not alone, in that same view China could make equal protective leaps, enticing business and data away from the US.

In this regard, when we look back at the Washington Post where we see: “With congressional action unclear, the stakes are high for U.S. v. Microsoft, such that more than 30 friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed by the European Union, members of Congress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, tech firms, privacy advocates, and former law enforcement and national security officials, among others”, the issue is not merely what is in play, but with the changes towards G5 all bets are off because it is not merely more data and faster data, there will be a new dimension of machine learning and automation within the apps themselves and as such the issue on legislation on personal data and application data becomes a new and different fields of consideration. Now, this has no bearing on national borders yet, but when the value of application data grows (and it will soon enough on a near exponential scale), we will see these fields come into the view of consideration and debate.

The Saudi opportunity is seen in a much better light when we consider “E. Joshua Rosenkranz, who will argue Microsoft’s case, called the government’s position “a recipe for global chaos.” He added: “If ever there were a step that is sure to stoke international tension, it is sidestepping the treaties that were negotiated by countries precisely to protect their sovereignty, and instead unilaterally obtaining reams of personal letters”, so as we see that side in regards to the ‘sovereignty’ of accounts, we also see that if Mossack Fonseca pushes their boundaries and if they get their infrastructure and security up to scrap, they could open up new doors to alternative and additional revenues, because those who have the cash to secure their privacy will pay through the nose for it. So it will no longer merely be about tax avoidance, it will become about identity avoidance, repudiation avoidance and their cyber persona, all up for Encrypted Cyber Outsourcing. If your value in cyberspace is set to a value, being the one surfing with an economic value of $0 will be the most anonymous one and there are plenty of people who prefer to be that, out of sight of the Skip Tracers, the investigators and the media at large, in the cyber age, anonymity is becoming more and more important, especially to those who embrace anonymity.

The Washington Post gives a few alternative views and all very valid, yet in all this there is not merely the ‘criminal’ data as it is seen, it is the setting of data privacy within the persons national sovereignty set against the US, or any other nation that requests your data for whatever reason they give. We see this in the US case Blackwell, 2004, where we get “Illegally obtained evidence applies to criminal cases only and is typically “evidence acquired by violating a person’s constitutional protection against illegal searches and seizures; evidence obtained without a warrant or probable cause”“, that setting could stretch, especially when data obtained from another country is set against additional privacy laws and in addition, the proof required to set ‘or probable cause’ which might be another bump in the setting of borderlines, whether they are merely digital or physical. The law was never ready for Clouds and Cyberspace. This is seen in the unjust setting of ‘the law does not apply in Cyberspace‘, which is not true (proven on several settings), as the “conflicting laws from different jurisdictions would apply, and even as that happens for any person simultaneously, to some extent, to the same event. The Internet might not make geographical and jurisdictional boundaries clear, but Internet users remain in physical jurisdictions“. There is an agreement there, but as most systems as well as the lack of non-repudiation has been in play from even before I got my University IT degree, and since then too little changed, the failure to prove that the ‘internet user‘ is THAT ‘internet user‘ the law keeps on falling over and as that is paramount in setting the need of the warrant, the warrant should in the end go nowhere, which is exactly what the alleged criminal hopes for and legislation has remained behind the curve by a lot, optionally helping them out evading conviction.

So as we see these settings, we see that the U.S. v. Microsoft could in the end cost the US a lot more than they themselves bargained for, because that is in the end the nature of the beast of commerce, it goes where business and profit resides.



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Two streams, one view

As I see the news pass by, events shown on separate media, I notice myself wondering if my life had any meaning at all. I was young and I went to the Middle East in 1982, I would return in 83 and 84 only to learn that there was change. Terrorists like Hezbollah and Hamas were only small and Hamas rose as I would see in 1984, yet I thought that change would be inevitable. I saw Hezbollah as nothing more than pesky small minded terrorists, a tool to be used by Iran and Syria. Yet even as Lebanon was trying to move forward, there were signs in media and some places that the US needed Syria too much, in their case dealing with Saddam Hussein and as such many of us thinking we would fight for peace, we only fought for the borderlines that the US decided needed to be in place. It must have been the late 80’s, I was not longer in the Middle East and not all clued in towards the events of the day there. You see DARPA had not rolled out the internet at that point; ARPANET was not available for the audience at large. So today I see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Now we see another push against Hezbollah. You see Saudi Arabia has had enough of those terrorists and is pushing back hard, it is also willing to push against Iran. I see two issues. One is that this issue will be bloody and even as we hope for the victory of Saudi Arabia there, there are more than just a few markers showing us that the three largest players (US, Russia and UK) are not completely in agreement whether the Middle East should have one clear dominant party. The issues in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Kuwait that have been going on for half a century should show that. If that had not been the case Hezbollah and Hamas would have been little more than an inconvenience and they would have been dealt with a long time ago. So even as I see certain steps being taken I need to wonder if Saudi Arabia is pushing for a resolution, what will the larger picture show as it shifts. As that unfolds where will the US and Russia stand? What actions, or inactions will they use to leave the Status Quo in the middle east in a place called ‘as is’? The evidence for the longest time has shown that they pronounce whatever allies they have, but in the end, they only care for their needs and options. Now, this is not wrong or immoral, it is merely the way any nation plays its game. It is not a new game, it goes back even before Nicola Machiavelli thought it was a god idea to write down certain options for politicians to be.

As per Friday morning, we see: ““Due to the circumstances in the Lebanese Republic, the kingdom asks its citizens who are visiting or residing there to leave immediately,” a Foreign Ministry source quoted by the news agency said, adding that Saudis were advised not to travel to Lebanon from any country“, so even as we can merely speculate on what comes next, the onus is now pushed on Iran and what it is going to do with its terrorist ally Hezbollah. There is one opposing side which was shown by Reuters (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-saudi-insight/deep-in-yemen-war-saudi-fight-against-iran-falters-idUSKBN1D91UR). With: “The dysfunction is a reminder to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that his campaign to counter arch-enemy Iran in the Middle East, including threats against Tehran’s ally Hezbollah, may be hard to implement” we acknowledge that Iran has resources and skills and they are driven, both sides clearly are. In my mind, is the additional theatre (read: change of scenery) a workable factor? It does put larger pressures on Iran to get the logistics and goods underway, which will be their weakness to some extent. It is equally an issue how Russia will react. They might not openly act in this placement, yet the clear support to Hezbollah and as the times of Israel states: “the truth is that since Russia began its open military activities in Syria, Hezbollah fighters are also learning Russian methods of war, becoming familiar with advanced Russian weaponry, coming to understand the latest Russian technologies, and in some cases, actually fighting alongside Russian special forces“, we might comprehend the skills and training of the Spetsnaz Malcheks, or the ‘Войска специального назначения’ as they call themselves. In one part Avi Issacharoff omitted or decided not to implement one view in his story. In the end when the Spads are not holding their hands, Hezbollah remains what they were trained enthusiastic terrorists, they are only an army in the smallest sense of the total concept, this also means that as logistics falters, as support dwindles the armed Saudi forces will be more than a match and should gain the upper hand. Now, this can only play out if there is a stalemate between Russia and USA, because if the USA backs down and Hezbollah gets open on the ground Russian support, it becomes an entirely different slice of cake and all bets are off at that point. Only the Russians could push Hezbollah in way that the Iranians could never do. You see, if Iran enters the theatre the game changes as they become a clear and present danger to the state of Israel, their vocal insinuations made that so, so as Iran is trying to get a foothold whilst Israel has a few ways to counter them, we will see a more underground event of escalations where Iran is unable to counter a war they never have faced. You see their words (Iran that is) might look good on the news and on PowerPoint presentations, yet in the true data parks there is no setting, because in the end, this generation of Iranians have never faced anyone like Israel before and their faith in their own internal governmental presentations will make them even less prepared. So at that point it is merely a scuffle between Hezbollah and Saudi armed forces and in that equation there is no option of even a remote stalemate for Hezbollah. Is that the goal? I believe that Russia saw Hezbollah as a tool for what they needed, the US has always been hostile and Europe requires high earnings, so the ECB is very much not in favour of any outspoken hostilities against anything that can downgrade their earnings, so they are seemingly steering away from these events as much as they can, yet I will admit that is just me speculating on European events in this case. Even as London is more and more outspoken anti-Hezbollah. Amsterdam and Stockholm are not taking that path. In my mind it is the liberal multicultural flag that they embrace, in that atmosphere a group like Hezbollah can easily hide under this ‘veil’ whilst hating multicultural events as much as possible.

This again has speculative sides, but it is based on solid data and events. You might think that it does not matter, but it does. As more and more nations in their liberal mindset hold off on an actual war on terror, being it for economic or philosophical reasons. Not being part of it is equally a problem down the track. So as we move back towards Lebanon and Hezbollah, we need to realise that not only will this become ugly to a larger degree, there is every chance that unless certain actions are taken the issues seen in Aleppo will be seen in Aleppo too, there is just no way to tell to what extent. In this we can look at Survival Analyses (or listen to the song ‘as time goes by’), where the point in time and the prolongation of all this is the setting on just how much Beirut will look like Aleppo in the end, time is the only factor required here and the people in Europe know this. So as we see the news prepare on how there should be talks and there should be armistices, they all better remember that it was their need for status quo that is pushing the consideration for a terrorist organisation.

Who in Europe would have ever thought that support of a terrorist organisation would be the cool thing to do on September 12th 2001? So consider that and now wonder why Europe is, for now, again sitting on their hands or even contemplating siding to the larger extent with Hexbollah? Yet there is also good news because with the actions by JP Morgan to push into large chunks of the Middle East and more notably the push towards the Kingdom Holding Company. You might think it is not related, but it is. It gives the view that JP Morgan is a facilitator for setting maximised profits and these profits are not to go towards France. There has been a thought that the US is not commitment, but as there is profit in war, the clear fallout of any war is opportunity. It seems to me that the US wants to get as much profit out of that as possible, so as the dominoes are pushed into place, we see a situation where the media proclaims JP Morgan to be a mere financial advisor. I believe that to be incorrect. Even as Reuters reported “JPMorgan is in early talks with Saudi Arabian companies about overseas listings“, that might be true, but JP Morgan has been pushing itself and its ‘friends’ into powerful places where lucrative revenues are not set in millions, but in billions. I cannot answer whether Credit Agricole did the right or wrong thing, they are pretty clever all by themselves. I think that the Saudi issues in play now are pushing for polarising fields of options and opportunity on a global scale. In this case my view will be proven over the next 2 years as we follow the money. They question is where the source will be set and who gets to fill their bucket list from that well. when the options are returned in billions there will be plenty of players, although in this instance I believe that the outside opportunities (non-Saudi based companies) are offered to the friends of JP Morgan and them only, which is again a speculation. Whether I am right or wrong will be initially shown in the next 20 weeks.

There are however facts available to see that there is a direction in place. Reuters show on part (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-jpmorgan-saudi/jpmorgan-sees-more-saudi-firms-looking-at-overseas-listings-after-aramco-idUSKBN1D7107), some might think that “He said listings in New York, London, Hong Kong or Singapore might help increase the liquidity of these companies and make them attractive for international investors, he said” is the part that gives the goods, yet it is the part not seen and more interestingly not implied that gives power to it all. The implied part is seen with “Commenting on the anti-corruption drive, Pinto said: “If it is done in the right way and for the right reasons it is good to do for the future of the kingdom.”” It is however only the first part. The news given with ‘Saudi Arabia detains 201 princes, businessmen in $100 billion corruption probe’ (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-10/saudi-anti-corruption-probe-finds-$100-billion-embezzled/9136608). This was not a sudden part, this had been in play for some time. It was not merely the fact that at present 201 people are now in custody. Even as we see mention of Iran and the Lebanon pressures, we see that there is a larger play. His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud have been on a path to get the nation reformed and moved away from oil dependency. In this the pool of plenty does not last too long when 100 billion get lost one handshake at a time as more and more people are connected to unlimited resources and wealth. As the press seems to be focussing on the crown prince and the ‘wild ride’ he created, there is a larger issue that is not too much in focus. No matter what the sceptics state, There is a clarity that Saudi Arabia is seriously considering that the age of oil is dwindling, as this happens they need to be able to push into other directions and they do have the wealth to create vested interests in pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, consultancy services and educational advantages. Forbes has had its share of articles on the matter, and whilst some look at ‘Saudi Arabia Looks To The Private Sector To Meet Growing Healthcare Demands’ it seems to me that 5G facilitation has much larger and more profitable sides as other providers are considering what to do, Saudi Arabia has the option to facilitate to the largest 4 cities and exceed in opportunity what Sweden has for its entire nation. When there is such a population (9.5 million) in 4 cities, there is an option to grow and grow fast. Now we know that there is a lively market already, but the idea that other services could be added grows the Saudi options to add markets and manufacturing opportunities through investment. I all this JP Morgan is potentially the spider in the centre of the web, growing in value and wealth from all sides at the same time. There is no way to state why Crédit Agricole walked away from those opportunities, but I feel certain that they did not walk away, the merely moved to a place around the corner. Even as the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/0e629bab-494c-34d0-8fe0-f71c8b089118) show mixed results, yet I believe that this French bank is moving into different fields, acquiring other banks and setting new goals. I have no way to tell on the why of it but I feel that moving away was only one as the clever people in this bank have agreed on a strategy that allows to grow faster and on larger fields. How?

We will learn this over the next 20 weeks. Yet no matter what is done and how the banks react is not a given, the direct dangers on how things escalate in Lebanon and with Iran seems to be crucial in all of this and I reckon that we will see the shifts quite soon. These shifts will not be through armed conflict, but will rely on the pressures and stresses that exist at present. In this Europe seems to take a ‘diplomatic’ stance (at http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_destabilising_lebanon_will_only_strengthen_hezbollah_7235), yet with “Europeans should veer the other way, taking measures that aim to preserve Lebanon’s stability and governance structures, and to prevent wider conflagration. Iran is clearly a key source of regional instability, and Hezbollah has become increasingly assertive in Lebanon” it seems to advocate a path of inaction, 3 decades of inaction have shown that there is no solution on that path, a stream of casualties, of non-actions and broken promises. Saudi Arabia (and the USA) both had enough, and as Iran seems to be an annoying thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia, they have seemingly decided to take Hezbollah out of the equation. This will be interesting, because the moment Hamas and Iran realise that the gig is finally up, I wonder how must tearful pleads of ‘negotiations’ will be shown on nearly every soft hearted news channel on the planet. Perhaps a recollection of March 2016 is needed. With: “Hamas on Sunday sent a delegation to Egypt in an effort to beseech Egyptian security officials to stop destroying its tunnels out of Gaza. These terror tunnels, employed by the terrorist group for nearly a decade, are used to store weapons, smuggle supplies, and infiltrate enemy territory – Israel – as well as carry out surprise attacks in which people are killed and soldiers abducted.” (source: Breaking Israel News). It reads like “please let us be terrorists a little longer, we need the tunnels to do naughty things”. There is every chance that this falls on deaf ears, because as Israel is optionally no longer pressured in possible two front wars, they can fully focus on Hamas whilst Saudi Arabia will only have to deal with Iran after that. It will truly change the Balance of Power in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia as the only true power in that region, all because to a larger extent, Europe decided to remain in a self-imposed state of inaction. After three decades they still haven’t learned that inaction against terrorists will never ever lead to any solution.

Yes, there are a few elements of speculation from my side, but it is based on gathered facts and it I do not believe it is less likely on the balance of probabilities, it is merely one optional setting in a larger game that has been played for much too long.




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